By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
Despite multiple obstacles, Jamie McMurray still finished inside the Top-10 in the Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver made up ground on the final two drivers still not locked into the Playoffs.
McMurray was inside the Top-10 in his No. 1 McDonald’s 50 Years of Mac Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 at different points of the race. That appeared to come to an end on lap 261, when the Chip Ganassi Racing driver nearly missed pit road.
A commitment line violation resulted in a pass-thru penalty, but McMurray battled back, eventually taking the wave around, and climbing through the field. On the final lap, he broke back into the Top-10, taking the checkered flag in ninth-place.
Early in stage two, McMurray had to take the free pass due to the torrid pace of the race. From there, he picked his way into the Top-10 by the end of the stage. McMurray finished the stage in ninth, overcoming the second of three obstacles he faced throughout the weekend.
“I missed the commitment line I guess on one of the green flag stops,” McMurray said. “So we had to fight to get back on the lead lap like two or three times, but had a really good car. Both of our cars were… Kyle (Larson) was really fast tonight. We had a great car too we just could never get the track position that we needed, but yeah, a really good day.”
One lap into practice, McMurray’s Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet engine failed. By the time his CGR team changed the engine, the veteran driver opted to use qualifying as a practice session. This left the No. 1 car mired deep in the pack, starting from 31st on the grid.
The ninth-place finish is the fifth Top-10 for McMurray this season. He moves into 21st in the Championship Points Standings. McMurray is 574-Points behind Points Leader Kyle Busch. He is also 122-Points behind the cutoff, held by Alex Bowman.
Only a victory in the Big Machine Vodka Brickyard 400, the regular season finale at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, can reward McMurray with a position on the 2018 Playoff Grid.